two paintings of ego in Egypt

in a painting by Gérôme

some hundred and fifty years old

tiny Napoleon Bonaparte sits

on a brown horse

looking at the Sphinx

nose to no nose—

“Hello Sphinx, welcome me!

I am a great general like your Ramses.

I assure you, many French soldiers will die

so I can achieve his former glories!”

his campaign in the Orient

is at a standstill spent 

under the constant desert sun

the Battle of the Nile is lost to Horatio

but the Battle of the Pyramids is won

a revolt of Cairo is put down fast

the new divan is in place, at last

so Egypt is quiet

“It is time, my friends, to go

we must search out ancient things

that Alexander might have touched

to see what Enlightenment they bring!”

Napoleon is a determined ego

and adventurous, like Indiana Jones so

he sets out with his staff and savants

to rediscover a long-lost mystery

that there is a possibility

a canal was cut in antiquity

connecting the Gulf of Suez to the Red Sea

by the Pharaohs, Senusret and Necho

“Let them say, this was the greatest day

when this expedition set out bold,

to discover secrets of the Égyptienne

for France’s glory to uphold!”

three hundred men, some with fez

march three days across Suez

in uniforms with scarves du jour

at one point they take a big detour

into Arabia to look for more

like the celebrated Fountains of Moses

but to no avail and back on the trail

they discover, in fact, that Canal of the Pharaohs

“O’ Glorious God! Thank you for my destiny!

France will have its connection to Mysore,

I will beat the British out of India and

the name of Napoleon will be one of lore!”

fulfilling its aims

and nursing its pains

heading back this expedition

survives the heat and thirst attrition

but in the tide, Bonaparte nearly drowns

and by most staff accounts

the little master expounds

that he’s destined to be an emperor

“I hate this sun, the unholy flies,

this desert and its infernal sand.

Let us beat the drums, fight the Turks

and go invade the Holy Land!”

in a painting by Gérôme

some hundred and fifty years old

tiny Napoleon Bonaparte sits

on a white camel

looking out at the Suez

le misérable—

“These were painted by Gérôme some

hundred and fifty years after I died.

I wish I could tell you that I like them, yet

they are not quite grand enough… for my pride.”

About troysherdahl

A blue-collar bohemian with a penchant for fine words and dirty jeans.
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